Monday, October 28, 2013

Cessationist Review of John MacArthur's "Strange Fire"

I found a notable reaction to John MacArthur's Strange Fire book/conference in the form of a book review, written by Thomas Schreiner, self-dubbed fellow cessationist, professor at Southern Seminary (Louisville) and the author of a book on Pauline studies currently sitting on my office shelf.

"Despite my fundamental exegetical and theological agreement with MacArthur, however, Strange Fire suffers from a focus on the extreme adherents of the charismatic movement. (I did wonder, incidentally, whether Joel Osteen should be labeled a charismatic, for one can be a prosperity preacher without being charismatic.) MacArthur says early in the book he doesn’t distinguish between the three waves of the charismatic movement, but this failure to make distinctions is problematic. He claims the extremes and abuses characterize the movement. But who really knows what the numbers are? Certainly, there are extremes in the movement, and obviously many who have gone astray. But many charismatics reject the likes of Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland.

"Despite qualifications here and there, one could get the impression MacArthur thinks almost all charismatics dishonor the Holy Spirit and are opposed to God. Certainly that is true of false teachers like Benny Hinn, but there are also many charismatics who repudiate the teaching and practices of people like Hinn, and hence the rhetoric of the book should be modified. MacArthur seems to acknowledge as much in his open letter to continuationists who have sound theology, though he believes they are a very small minority. Nevertheless, the clarion call of warning should be modified with clearer and more forthright admissions that many charismatics adhere to the gospel and are faithful to God’s Word."

You can read the rest here